How “Chick” Came To Refer To Females

Humans are not covered in downy feathers, they are not yellow or mottled, and they, usually, do not chirp. Obviously, no one would confuse a human with an adorable baby bird so how did chick come to refer to female humans?

First, it has to be understood that “chick” is a slang term that seems to have originated in the western states, probably California. California has long had a giant Latino population and in Spanish, chica (pronounced “cheek-uh”) means girl. Chica came to be mispronounced by English speakers as “chick-uh”, and in time the word lost its final syllable to become “chick”. In other words, Chica (Cheek-uh) became chica (chick-uh) which became chic (chick___) and which was subsequently written according to the rules of English orthography as chick.

In and of itself, chick is neither disrespectful nor anti-feminist; it is, however, diminutive in that it imputes all females as girls. Culturally, females are often referred to as girls regardless of age when (young) lady or (youngwoman is the appropriate designation. Broadly referring to females in this way is demeaning, and harkens to a past when women were largely excluded from participation in society as it implies immaturity and unequal standing with men.

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